Current members

Ruth McCarthy

Ruth is the Artistic Director of the Outburst Queer Arts Festival. She has been a cultural activist for 27 years and is passionate about promoting social change through arts engagement. She is currently working on global partnership development with British Council around queer arts, particularly in South America and the Caribbean. She worked in BBC television and radio production for 10 years before leading the Creative Development team in BBC Northern Ireland. 

Dave Moutrey

Dave is currently the Director and Chief Executive of HOME in Manchester and Director of Culture for Manchester City Council. Previously he led the successful merger of Cornerhouse and the Library Theatre Company to form HOME. Throughout his career, Dave has been involved in the management and marketing of arts organisations. He spent eight years as Chief Executive of Arts About Manchester, two years as Marketing Director for City of Drama, and managed Abraham Moss Theatre.

Elena Schmitz

Elena Schmitz

Elena has worked in senior roles in the Welsh arts sector for the last 15 years. Based in Cardiff, she is currently Development Manager at NoFit State Circus, the UK’s leading large-scale contemporary circus company. Previously, she was Head of Programmes at Literature Wales and has worked for Wales at the Venice Biennale of Art, Wales Arts International, g39 Gallery and Chapter Arts Centre. Elena came to the UK from Germany in 2004 as part of her MA in British Studies at Humboldt University.

Abdul Shayek

Abdul Shayek

Abdul is Artistic Director and Joint CEO of Tara Arts and founder of Fio, a Cardiff-based theatre company working across the UK and internationally. Abdul is also an opera director with WNO and has worked with ENO. He is a former Creative Associate of National Theatre Wales. Abdul is a Clore Cultural Leadership Fellow (2013-14), vice-chair of the National Alliance for Arts in the Criminal Justice System, as well as being a trustee of mid-wales dance company Impelo and No Fit State Circus.

Kenneth Olumuyiwa Tharp

Kenneth Olumuyiwa Tharp CBE, FRSA

Kenneth is currently working as a Freelance Arts and Culture Consultant. From 2007 to 2016, he was Chief Executive of The Place, and from 2018 to 2020, Director of The Africa Centre. During a 25-year career as a performer, choreographer, teacher and director, he danced with London Contemporary Dance Theatre and other leading companies. Kenneth is a Patron of Akademi, and The Place, and a Trustee of Sir Matthew Bourne’s dance company New Adventures, and the Chineke! Foundation. 

Claire Whitaker OBE

Claire has been appointed to take forward Southampton’s Bid for City of Culture 2025, working with Southampton’s communities, cultural organisations, businesses, and academic partners locally and in the wider Solent region. Her expertise range from the creation and delivery of ambitious arts events and programmes, to the development of strategic partnerships. Claire is committed to supporting the development of creative talent and enabling diverse audiences to experience music, arts and culture.